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Darren Lill. Foto: Tim De Waele
Darren Lill. Foto: Tim De Waele

Darren Lill and Ian McKissick ride strongly to keep BMC as a main protagonist in Cascade Stage 2

11. July 2008

Cascade Cycling Classic

After having finished Stage 1 with first place in the Team Classification, BMC hoped to build on their strong performance from the day before. With Jeff Louder and Brent Bookwalter in the top 10 and Darren Lill and Ian McKissick not far behind, BMC had a number of cards to play in the difficult but short Three Creeks Road Race in the heart of the Cascade Mountain range.

Though only 78 miles in length, the stage challenged the racers with a 7 mile climb up to the finish line.  

Uncharacteristically absent from the main break, BMC forced to work hard in the chase

“It was not one of our better days today since we missed the main break of 12 riders which ended up making it to the finish,” Gavin Chilcott explained.  “With no one in the break, we were forced to ride hard to chase back.”  Darren Lill ended as the team’s best finisher, and clarified the confusing situation once the break formed.  “We actually had Jonathan Garcia in the break, and Scott Nydam was in the mix too but having some trouble behind them,” Lill said.  “Jonathan dropped back to help Scott and at that moment the break really started going hard, and left the two of them chasing to no end.”  Though Rock Racing, which had the leader’s jersey and Toyota United also missed the break, they were not inclined to help with the chasing duties.  “For some reason neither Rock nor Toyota contributed to the chase, which lost Rock the jersey at the end of the day,” Chilcott said.  “That left us in the situation as being the only major team not represented in the break, but wanted to be.”  “We had agreed with Rock to help with the chasing to keep the break close,” Lill continued.  “But after a bit, Rock stopped helping in the chase, leaving us to do all the work.  We weren’t even leading the race, so we decided to get creative.”   The break of 12 riders had already gained more than 3 minutes on the pack.  “We had to think of some way to get the other teams to work,” Jeff Louder said.  “We didn’t want to pull Botero to the base of the climb, just to have him attack us when we got him there.”  

Going on the offensive

“We weren’t prepared to pull the pack all the way to the base of the climb,” Chilcott explained.  “So we decided to send Darren and Ian up the road.”  “It is great to be on a team like this that is willing to try unusual strategies,” Louder said.  “It was fun because Darren and Ian’s move really threw the rest of the peloton for a loop!”  Lill and McKissick attacked the peloton and road a two man pursuit after the breakaway.  “It was a pretty good move since I think we caught the rest of the pack by surprise,” Lill said.  “We seemed to gain about 45 seconds before they realized they needed to chase us.”  By the base of the climb, the BMC duo was able to shave over a minute off the breakaway’s advantage.  “We were maybe down 2 minutes by the climb,” Lill said.  “Ian was tired so I set out on my own up the climb, but there was a head wind, and the climb isn’t really that steep, so I didn’t make as much progress as I would have ideally liked.”   Behind Lill, the big guns of Leipheimer and Botero started to make their moves.  “With about 3km to go, Levi, Botero and Chris Baldwin bridged up to me,” Lill described.  “Then Levi attacked, but I hesitated a little too long to see what the others would do.  They were pretty much cooked, so I tried to follow Levi, but by that time it was too late.”  With Botero and Baldwin on his tail, and Jeff Louder not far behind, Darren eased up. “I didn’t want to drag those other guys up to Levi, and put more time between them and Jeff who wasn’t too far back,” Lill explained, “so I eased up and we all lost a time to Levi.  But the GC is still pretty close and it is anyone’s guess how it will end up.”  Even if the day was hard for BMC because they missed the break, the overall performance of the team under the circumstances was certainly something they could be proud of.  “It’s too bad we weren’t defending the jersey today, because we definitely could have done that,” Louder said.  “Jonathan, Steve Bovay and Nathan Miller were all so strong, and road the other teams into the ground in the chase.  We made the best of a bad situation for the team and no one is out of it yet.”

Double stage for Friday

Friday will start off with a 15 mile time trial which sends the riders on an out and back course.  “Tomorrow’s time trial will make a big difference,” Chilcott predicted.  But the fact that it is not a very technical course will most likely prove a challenge to BMC’s climbers.  “The first part of the ride will be uphill so that section will be better suited to me,” Lill believed.  “But the race back will be straight downhill and the guys with a bigger mass will be able to get going much faster on it than I will.  And I was riding flat out for the last 40km of today’s stage, so we’ll just have to see how it goes.”  The flat and fast evening criterium will make Friday a very long day for all concerned.  “We are still confident that we can make something happen on the GC,” Lill said.  “We have enough guys close to the top and Sunday’s circuit race will be hard enough to make a difference.”